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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: The Minnow and the Shark
By Dianne Janak


I know how it feels to be a helpless minnow swimming in a sea of hungry sharks. It was dinner time at our first Christian Writer’s Conference. My friend and I were testing the waters.

The problem was the white non-color of our name tags. Announcing our home towns only, it may have well just said, “We are unpublished wannabes.” I came with a willing heart to learn, but didn’t know I was walking into deep waters, without a life jacket. That was my fear, and my illusion.

Editors had blue name tags, publishers had yellow, and published authors had green with stars to denote the numbers of their success. Not a brilliant idea in my opinion. Those of us with white tags were broadcasting we were clueless.

The authors came to meet publishers and editors and vice versa, which meant dinner time was mixing time, and of course who wants to sit with white tags? Just as I was regretting coming to the conference, a woman with an entourage of followers invaded my pity party.

It was THE Frances Waters, the most famous Christian romance writer of our time. ( according to the time she spends on the top of best seller lists. ) My favorite shark had parked right next to me. Was I dreaming?

Trying to manage my star-struck emotions, I asked if she wanted some sweet and low for her tea. She politely declined. Oh dear.

I had to think of something to talk about that was more profound than superficial sugar. Coming out of my fear fog, I shared with her that our church book club had read about four of her novels. Great ice breaker idea. Stupid mistake.

She asked me which book I liked the best and why. A normal question to a very abnormal minnow. I went blank. I cannot believe I’m sitting here with a woman whose worthy of autograph signing, and she is asking me for feedback. I froze. A frozen minnow with no intelligent answer. I lived up to my white name tag.

I was hoping for an earthquake, but thankfully, my friend saw I was in trouble and changed the subject. I was so relieved, I got clumsy.

As I moved my fish stick on my fork to my mouth, it fell, and to my horror, went right into Frances’s open purse sitting between us on the floor. She didn’t see it, thank goodness, but it put me in a huge dilemma.

Do I tell her? Do I not tell her? Do I reach down and try to take it out discreetly ? Three choices.

One gets me to heaven, the other to hell, and the third choice possible jail time. The worry of the choice gave me a migraine.

I knew I had to come clean. Heaven seemed like the smartest choice, so I silently prayed for God’s mercy. Then I remembered why I loved her novels.

“Frances, you asked me a question, and I froze. I froze because you are one of my favorite authors and here we are at the same table. I drew a blank about everything except that in your books, your come across as real. Relatable. Genuine. Forgiving. And right now, I need that ‘cause my fish stick is in your purse. “

She laughed so loud, I was able to notice this shark had no teeth. She was normal. My kind of woman. The ice was broken. I thawed out, and we enjoyed the rest of the dinner just like old friends. I forgot who she was, and who I was not.

When I confessed my feelings about the name tag hierarchy, I found out that the reason she came to our table was because she saw our white name tags, and wanted to welcome us to the conference.

What was that I was saying about sharks? And minnows?

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This article has been read 864 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Michael McBuba08/31/07
Whoa! Such superb narration! Such fantastic imageries! Such delictable storyline! I kept laughing and grinnning from ear to ear all through the write-up! I am so glad I stopped by to review this article. You did an incredibly beautiful job! Please, accept my congratulations; and kindly get in touch with me!
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
Wow--I love this! There's lots here to love, but I was particularly tickled by the tie-in of the title with the mischievous fish stick. All-around great entry.
Paula Friedrichsen08/31/07
This is such an adorable, delightful, funny article. I laughed out loud, and it takes something pretty darn humorous to make me do that. Good job!
Joanne Sher 09/01/07
Oh, what a riot! And knowing this is true makes it even BETTER! I love your little speech to Francine. Your title, by the way, is PERFECT. Lots to love here!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/01/07
I loved this delightful story from beginning to end.
Katherine Kimbley09/02/07
Great story... It kept my attention the whole way through, and the detail of fish sticks was very much in keeping with the theme (on purpose, I'm sure). I appreciate that you applied a flair of humor to the prompt of "fear". Nice work.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/03/07
As I read this, I kept wondering if this was non-fiction; but it doesn't matter - it was very good. The Title drew me in and the story kept me glued, and the ending was perfection personified. A Super job for a "White Tag." (*.*)!
Dee Yoder 09/03/07
Ooh, I wouldn't want to be a "white tag", either! (I hope our conference organizers don't read this and get ideas). I'd like to follow you around, if this is for real, because your life must be a hoot! Loved the line about the fishstick in the great author's purse. I laughed out loud reading this story!
Lynda Schultz 09/05/07
Hilarious. Very well done.
Marilee Alvey09/05/07
Boy, did I love this story. It reeled me in: hook, line and sinker. Who hasn't been a white tag? I have. Many times, both as an author and at other venues. I struggled right along with you. You have great writing talent. See you in Master's soon....whether you want to or not! Your down to earth stories with a flair for humor are the best!
Cathy Kane09/06/07
Fantastic! Wonderful! A laugh out loud, incredibly great read! You are a terrific writer! Hat's off, to you! There are not enough exclamation points in the world to tell you how much I enjoyed this story!!!!!
Myrna Noyes09/06/07
Dianne, I won't ever need to go to the doctor if I keep reading your FW entries! You'll keep me heart-healthy with laughter, that most-perfect medicine! :)

What an excellent account of your "fearful" meeting with "Miss Waters"! (CK has assured me it is a true story!) I wish I'd been there with you, and I thank you for sharing it with us!

Cathy Kane09/07/07
Congratulations, Dianne, on making the top 40! What a wonderful story that you gave us! Since a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, you are going to keep all of us very healthy as we continue to enjoy your great sense of humor and even greater writing ability! Keep up the good work!
Kristen Hester09/07/07
I love this! I learned from the message boards who "Frances Waters" really is. Wow. She's my favorite. I can't believe you met her, ate with her and, DROPPED A FISH STICK IN HER PURSE. Oh my, Oh my. This is great writing. It flows, it's funny, it's GREAT! God bless.
David Butler09/12/07
LOL!! Did that really happen? This was so well told, especially the theological heartburnings over your eternal destiny from dropping a fish stick into her purse. You use humour so delightfully to get the "walking in the light" message across. Keep it up!